When you find yourself in Lake Garda, more specifically, in the Trentino region of Lake Garda, a hike to Ponale is one thing you have to do!
Or at least, so we were told.
As someone who would rather spend my time in Italy eating pasta than hiking, I grudgingly decided to go on this hike and as soon as we started, I immediately got why everyone recommended it – it’s pretty gorgeous! (*Sidenote: Like the Swiss, Germans, Austrians…etc this part of Italy just loves their outdoor activities!)
It’s a route so beautiful, it’s been used in movies like James Bond’s Quantum of Solace and is one of the best viewpoints in Lake Garda – even on a hazy day like this!
Do not be fooled by the haze though, it was a pretty warm day! Oh, and for those not as keen on hiking, don’t worry, the incline here is really not that steep so it isn’t the hardest hike to do.
At Ponale, you could decide to carry on but there’s a belvedere (a viewpoint) – aptly called the Ponale Alto Belvedere, where you can stop for a drink and a bite to eat, which is exactly what we did!
Typically, the hike starts in Riva del Garda and ends up here in Ponale and after taking in the views (and hopefully doing away with a few refreshing pints of Italian brews), you head back to Riva del Garda.
Looking back at my photos now, it doesn’t look too busy but walking back, there were a fair few people out and about – some of whom were actually cycling uphill from Riva del Garda. (I think that crazy and impressive as I generally find uphill cycling even harder than uphill walking/hikes).
Riva del Garda is such a ray of Italian sunshine and an absolutely gorgeous place to visit.
Feet exhausted, we still managed to find even more reasons to be distracted by the beautiful resort town (read: gelato) while we slowly made our way back to our hotel.
^This pigeon above was a bit of a stalker and didn’t seem to get that I didn’t have any bread (or whatever it is that pigeons eat), on me.
When you get the chance to visit the area, be sure to set some time aside to explore Riva del Garda, it’s just such a pretty spot.
Back at the hotel, we decided to just chill and have brunch in the hotel gardens.
Herby ‘breadsticks’ with olive oil have never been more welcome than they were at that very moment!
Brunch (which we actually had at the hotel) was made up of smoked salmon and avocado on toast (topped off with an egg), freshly squeezed orange juice, granola and yoghurts with berry and Nutella topped pancakes to finish things off.
How we managed to not fall asleep there and then (post-lunch in the sun), I do not know as that lunch was surprisingly huge (though it was exactly what we needed)! 😉 😋
Later that afternoon, we hopped back into the car and headed over to Torbole – another pretty town, albeit smaller than Riva del Garda, sat right on Lake Garda.
If you remember, we’d actually been to Torbole the night before for dinner but seeing as it was dark, we didn’t get to explore it properly so our plans for the afternoon was just essentially to have a mooch around Torbole.
And mooch we did! Seeing as I’d done my exercise for the day (probably for the week) with that Ponale hike, all I wanted to do was wander from gelato spot to gelato spot and just kick back by the lake and take in that beauty.
Some folks we’d spoken o earlier that day had expressed how they thought it was a shame that it was so hazy that day but personally, I quite liked it! It made what was already quite a beautiful place feel so whimsical…
We even headed up higher into the mountain (not on foot, though – this time we drove), to watch the dusk settle in over the town before heading back to Riva del Garda to get ready for dinner.
The irony of it was that dinner was actually back in Torbole at the Forte Alto Restaurant, a brilliant restaurant in the old castle up in the mountains.
*Sidenote: If you’re heading here, parking is a bit of a free for all as the restaurant can get busy so maybe take a taxi up here instead of driving. If you do decide to drive though, it’s fairly relaxed so you will find a place to park, it might just not be where you’d normally park anywhere else or even during the day 😄).
The food though, makes it all worth your while as it’s course after course of Italian deliciousness! We started off with a glass of delicious local wine and bread so fresh out of the oven it was still piping hot.
Then begun the main even –starting with Fish from the lake (Garda), beetroot olive oil, bread made with coal, garnished with flowers from the mountains…
Red cabbage, apple vinegar, basil, pesto with basil and garlic…
Semolina and chives, pumpkin puree, basil and chlorophyll and a sauce made with tiny fish from the lake (kinda like anchovies)
Next up was the tomato sauce, ravioli filled with cheese, leek paste, balsamic vinegar and olive powder
Before a (palate cleansing) raspberry and ginger sorbet.
…followed by pork wrapped in bacon on a bed of mixed vegetables, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and potatoes sauteed in cream
And then arrived the dessert platter! On it we had apple and ginger cake, wild fruit, figs, prune, puff pastry with Chantilly cream, crema Catalana and chocolate salami!
Suffice to say, we left that meal totally full and thoroughly impressed!
Garda Trentino had been showing us over the past few days how amazing the food here can be and we were very much down for that!
Dinner was just the perfect way to finish off the day and with that, we headed back to Riva del Garda for a good night’s kip before the next day’s epic adventure (and not one if you’re scared of heights 😉 ).